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by George Skentzos

Official figures release today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that Australian new vehicle sales topped just 70,241 units for February 2009 – down 21.9 per cent compared to the same month in 2008.

This follows an 18.5 per cent slump for January 2009, with the industry now urging potential car buyers to take advantage of the significant opportunities that exist in the marketplace.

The automotive industry had been hopeful that additional stimulus from interest rate cuts last month and new fiscal policy measures announced by the federal government would help to underpin the market in coming months, but the market continues to slide.

“This result is consistent with the trend of recent months and reflects the impact of broader economic conditions on the new vehicle market,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

Toyota continues to lead the market in Australia, playing down the results in the context of the current global climate.

“When analysing this year’s market, it should be remembered that all-time records were being set during the first half of 2008 before the global financial crisis,” Toyota senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner, said.

Toyota accounted for 14,274 of the 70,241 total industry vehicle sales for February, with both figures representing the sixth-best February on record.

Mr Buttner added that February industry sales in previous years had topped 80,000 on just three occasions and between 70,000 and 80,000 only twice.

“At this stage, we anticipate the market will finish between 850,000 and 900,000 sales for 2009,” he said. “That means an overall decline of 10-15 per cent, which would compare favourably with most other markets including the United States.”

Holden continues to maintain its second place position behind Toyota with 9029 sales (12.9 per cent of the market), followed by Ford with 7396 vehicle sales (10.5 per cent market share).




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